Transmission of COVID-19 in children in school settings

06 August, 2020

The ECDC has released a document describing the epidemiology and disease characteristics of COVID-19 in children and young adults under the age of 18 in the European Union (EU) countries and the United Kingdom (UK). It was found that less than 5% of COVID-19 cases reported in the EU countries and the UK are among those under 18 years of age, and they are less likely to be hospitalised or have fatal outcomes as compared to older adults. They are also likely to be asymptomatic, which means the infection might not be detected.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in school settings have been few, and investigations of cases reported in schools have suggested that child-to-child transmission is not common, and it is not the main cause of COVID-19 in those whose onset of infections coincides with the time they attended schools. Schools are therefore "unlikely to be more effective propagating environments" as compared to other leisure settings with similar densities of people, as long as appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures are maintained.

Evidence has also shown that closing childcare and educational institutions are less likely to be an "effective single control measure for community transmission of COVID-19". Decisions on closing and reopening of schools should be consistent with decisions on other measures, such as physical distancing and public health responses within the community.

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